The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Essex County College Offers Students Free and Confidential Immigration Consultation

Essex County College, where I work as an English professor, is offering free consultation services to students who have questions about immigration status—their own, or that of their families and relatives. The service, provided by the American Friends Service Committee, is part of ECC’s Single Stop Student Services. The program offers assistance to undocumented students in filling out DACA and other applications, answers questions about options and rights, and will respond to any other queries of concern to our immigrant community. The consultation is free—students should contact or speak to Single Stop Program Coordinator Michael Cresci (973-877-3297) or Melissa Mora (973-877-1869) for more information or to make an appointment.



Friday, April 17, 2015

President Obama Honors Earned Sick Leave Advocates!

Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of NJ Working Families Alliance, who came to the mic at our Monday night council meeting to advocate for the Earned Sick Leave ordinance, was labeled as an "outsider" by the corporate propagandists and their ilk, is being honored today by President Obama for her work. She was one of the people the council tried to have KICKED OUT on Monday at the ridiculous circus that occurred on Monday night!


As we saw at the Monday night council meeting, the Earned Sick Leave ordinance failed because some councilors were swayed by the interests of unnamed business owners, putting their financial interests ahead of the health and well-being of our most vulnerable low-wage workers. It seemed that we would have had the votes, until Councilwoman Toliver inexplicably changed her vote after some exchange with the council president. Councilwoman Greaves was nowhere to be found. I will bring this ordinance back. 

In the meantime, Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of NJ Working Families Alliance, labeled as an "outsider" by the corporate propagandists and their ilk who came to the microphone Monday night, is being honored today by President Obama for her work. It will be live-streamed from the White House. Click on the link below. 

Ironically, the silly comments that were made by some of the speakers about "outsiders" were the same arguments used by the right-wing and the Tea Party against President Obama.

Obama honors N.J. paid sick leave activist as 'Champion of Change'

Plainfield could have been the 10th City to pass this important legislation, but for the cravenness of individuals--it passed 7-0 on first reading. Well...I will reintroduce it.

Below is a comment that I placed on Bernice's blog after Monday's meeting. I stand by EVERY statement I made:
What is truly sad is that low-wage workers continue to have no protection against the excesses of employers who deliberately exploit them. For those who say the ordinance is an impediment to development: PROVE IT. Do we really want to encourage developers who would not want to come to Plainfield if we have a law to protect workers? Really? Do we really want those kinds of folks here? I would like to think that we want good, ethical businesses to come here--the other kind (speaking for myself) is not welcome. The reason that I could not support the amendment to exempt businesses with 10 or less workers is because that, in effect, would harm the very people the legislation would most affect--the vast majority of businesses in our city have less than 10 workers. That would make the ordinance not even worth the paper it was printed on.

Vera Greaves was conveniently incommunicado, and Diane Toliver uncomprehendingly switched her vote at the very last minute--literally at the last minute.

To Taylor's continued ridiculous ranting that "this is a mess" and the other foolishness she perpetrated last night, I would hope that folks see her exposed as one who does not read what is put in front of her and who then tries to cover it up. This ordinance passed UNANIMOUSLY on first reading. So, I guess we're finding out that Taylor doesn't read her packet, and that she is most responsive to the whims of know-nothing-ism and politics.

That she then publicly bashed me last night AFTER having said on previous occasions that she thought it was good legislation for our city (she said that to me personally after first reading) shows that she remains a craven opportunist and tool of her political mentor, whose fingerprints are all over the "no" votes. Political hijinks are afoot, and the real losers are the exploited low-wage workers of Plainfield. For folks who receive the benefits of earned sick days to contemptuously ignore the needs of workers who do not shows who the real "elitist" is. All the blathering about caring for "the least of these" is just that--blathering. I will reintroduce the ordinance next month--that should give the folks who are against this legislation plenty of time (how much more time do they need?) to propagandize against it. 

That one of the speakers would use the Freedom Foundation's purported "study" to rail against this legislation shows that they will stoop to anything to leave workers unprotected. The Freedom Foundation is a right-wing think tank that bashes unions and doesn't even believe in workers' rights to a minimum wage. I guess the lesson for Plainfield is that, if you go to a business that does not provide earned sick days, and a worker looks under the weather and yet is still serving you, you better hope you don't get sick. And for that worker, the lesson is, you'd better come to work (sick or not) or your family will suffer.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Support Earned Sick Leave in Plainfield!

For the life of me, I cannot understand why ANYONE would be against an earned sick leave ordinance that protects "the least of these" (as we are apt to describe the most vulnerable and lowest-paid workers in our city. The ordinance ensures that if a worker puts in 30 hours of work, he or she will earn 1 hour of paid sick leave--consider how long it will take for an average worker to accumulate even 1 day (8 hours) of sick leave, and you will see the weaknesses of the arguments against this extremely reasonable ordinance.

Labor leader Chris Estevez speaking for low-wage workers in Plainfield.

Monday night, April 13, the City of Plainfield has an historic opportunity. We can become MAGIC NUMBER 10--the 10th city in the state of New Jersey to pass an Earned Sick Leave ordinance to protect low wage workers. Earned Sick Leave has the support of the New Jersey NAACP, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the NJEA, SEIU, and many other labor organizations, and we saw last week that low-wage earners in Plainfield are support of this ordinance.

We have heard from the same voices of the SID on why they want to make changes (read: stall) passage of the Earned Sick Leave ordinance in Plainfield. The opponents of this ordinance have not submitted a single piece data to support their position.

Again, the ordinance calls for workers to receive a SINGLE HOUR of earned sick pay for every THIRTY HOURS of work. Really, that is a hardship? Show data on businesses that have shut down because of Earned Sick Leave being an onerous burden on them. I have seen none presented by these individuals who claim to speak for 800 business owners in Plainfield. 

Earned Sick Leave is necessary to protect workers as well as the public health. It's good for business and it's good for the workers. I hope my council colleagues will stand firm with the low-wage workers in our city, who need the same protections that the rest of us have. We must unite behind our most vulnerable workers!



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Earned Sick Days Are Necessary in Plainfield

I am urging my fellow council members to support the passage of Plainfield's earned sick days ordinance and to resist the propaganda pushed on us by the representatives of multi-billion dollar fast food corporations, some of whom have demonized their own workers as possibly lazy malingerers. These are corporations whose own executives and managers get the benefits that they want to exclude from their own workers. We are not talking about a large sum of money--the earned sick day for a minimum wage worker is $67.04. This is also a matter of protecting the public health. I encourage you to read the report, and to consider the helplessness of low-wage workers who often have to come to work even when they are sick. 

I worked my way through college (and for some years after) at mostly minimum wage jobs. I supported myself--I paid my own rent and bills, and had to do it without the benefit of sick days--if I didn't work, I didn't get paid. There were occasions when I just had to go in--since I had to take care of myself, financially, I had no recourse when I got sick. Many of my students (of all ages) at Essex County College are minimum wage workers--some are the sole support for their households--and they, too, work at jobs where they cannot afford to stay home when they are sick.

Earned sick days are a success, according to the Rutgers University study (just released today!) on the impact of the law one year after its implementation in Jersey City. Produced by the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers, the study (which I have read) clearly establishes the benefits of earned sick days for all working people, especially those who labor at low wages. Click on the link to read the study for yourself.

Earned Sick Days in Jersey City: A Study of Employers and Employees at Year One

As opposed to those who do not support the idea of workers receiving earned sick days, who have talked about how onerous such a mandate would be on business owners, a news article published by today notes the following from the study: "The vast majority of city businesses are reporting no problems adhering to the city's paid sick leave mandate, while a third are reporting increases in productivity and the quality of new hires and a reduction in employee turnover..." Click on the link to read:

Benefits "Evident" in Jersey City Paid Sick Time, Rutgers Study Finds

NJBIZ also notes that: "Some 84 percent of workers reported that they felt supported by their employers and another 71 percent added that they were more satisfied with their jobs, according to the study. Most workers on average reported taking three or fewer days during the year, the study also found." Click on the link to read:

A Year Later, Jersey City Says Paid Sick Leave Legislation a Success

Nine other cities in New Jersey have already passed Earned Sick Days ordinances. 
Plainfield can be the MAGIC NUMBER 10!